Asm: গুৱাহাটী guwāhāṭi
‘Betel-nut Market’ [Pragjyotishpura] City/ Capital, Assam
From Asm: guwā, ‘areca nut’, ‘betel-nut’; and Ben: hāṭa [Skt: haṭṭa], ‘market’.
Guwahati’s history stretches back to ancient times and it is mentioned in the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Puranas.
Guwahati as a name has been dated to the 10thC. Its was also known as Pragjyotishpura, ‘City of the Eastern Light’ [from Skt: prāk/prāg, ‘east(ern)’; jyōtish, ‘light’; and pura, ‘fort’, ‘city’].
With a population of nearly one million it is the largest city in Northeast India, the capital city of Assam and a major port on the Brahmaputra river. It is the region’s commercial centre and a major trader in tea and oil.
It stretches along both banks of the Brahmaputra river, surrounded by the Nilachal Hills, [Skt: nīla, ‘(dark) blue’; and achal, ‘mountain’] and still has patches of betelnut plam trees scattered along its outskirts. The Kamakhaya Shiva Temple, sitting on the top of Nilachal Hill, is an important Hindu pilgrimage site.
It is known as India’s ‘Gateway to the Northeast’.